Socialist groups go on walking tour of capital's 'golden circle' addresses

UP TO 400 people took part at the weekend in what organisers billed as “a political walking tour through the heartland of the…

UP TO 400 people took part at the weekend in what organisers billed as “a political walking tour through the heartland of the golden circle”.

The trip through Dublin’s Georgian and business districts included stops outside the townhouses of Dermot Desmond, Johnny Ronan and Sir Tony O’Reilly, as well as sites linked by the marchers with gross inequality or the state’s economic collapse.

The event was organised by the “1% Network”, a recently-formed coalition of socialist groups taking its name from a 2007 report by Bank of Ireland Private Banking which asserted that 1 per cent of the population owned 34 per cent of the country’s financial wealth.

Gregor Kerr, one of the organisers, said there was a concerted attempt to pretend that wealth didn’t exist anymore, but the tour was designed to disprove this.

“The reality is that not everyone is sharing the pain. Those most responsible for this crisis are escaping relatively unscathed,” he said.

Starting in St Stephen’s Green, marchers were invited to view the “palatial mansions” of the banks, the Shelbourne Hotel owned by developer Bernard McNamara with its “long association with the super-rich” and the various private clubs on the Green, where “fine wines” cost over €500 a bottle.

Then it was off to Dermot Desmond’s house on Merrion Square, where the crowd was treated to a resume of his involvement with various tribunals and his championing of Charles Haughey.

The millionaire financier’s black door remained firmly shut and there was no sign of life within.

On Herbert Street, opposite Ibec’s headquarters, there were boos for the employers’ body as speaker Andrew Flood accused it of “infiltrating” Government agencies.

“Ibec press releases of six months ago are the Government policies of tomorrow,” he claimed, as a passerby holding a dog urged the group to “get a job”.

Crossing the canal, the tour took in leafy Burlington Road and the offices of Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank’s private banking divisions for high net worth individuals.

Johnny Ronan’s substantial house on the road, dubbed the “purple palace” by the group, also featured on the itinerary but that was as far as it got, geographically speaking, into D4.

“Are we willing to block the gates of Leinster House and to storm them?” asked another speaker, Brian Leeson. “The agenda of the 1 per cent will not be beaten by polite marches and a general election.”

However, the handful of gardaí on duty looked unconcerned and Leeson joked that the tour had proved “unusually peaceful” for some of those present.

Groups involved in the 1% Network include éirígí, the Irish Socialist Network and the Workers’ Solidarity Movement. A further protest, focusing on “zombie banks”, is planned at Hallowe’en.